Well, that was more like it. Reeling from consecutive losses and a
performance at Boston College that was disappointing on several levels, the
Hokies resorted to classic Virginia Tech football and rebounded with a 36-6
whipping of Southern Mississippi. With Clemson and Miami on the horizon, the
Hokies not only needed to win, but they needed to play well to set up for the
stretch run. And play well they did.
Offensively, the Hokies established the running game, controlled the line of
scrimmage, and got some big plays from the playmakers. Defensively, after a
shaky start, the Hokies played fast with strong pursuit to the ball, shutting
down Southern Miss for the final 3-1/2 quarters. And the special teams returned
to form, led by the punting of Nic Schmitt.
Overall, the Hokies played Tech football — few mistakes, ground control on
offense, fast and aggressive on defense, and field position dominant on special
It’s a short week and everyone is already thinking about Clemson, but let’s
break down the Southern Miss game a bit further…
Offense Discovers Identity
After a couple of games of pitching the ball all over the field, the Tech
offense returned to its roots and pounded the line of scrimmage with Branden Ore
and a punishing running attack. In his Keys to the Game article, Phil Martin
pointed out that the number one key for the offense was to run the ball. For the
game, the Hokies averaged 7.3 yards per carry overall with Branden Ore averaging
9.0 yards per carry individually. That is the definition of establishing the run
and controlling the line of scrimmage. Check!
From that, the offense successfully used play action to get opportunities
down the field in the passing game. They worked the midrange passing game off of
the running game, effectively staying out of 2nd and long and 3rd and long
This offense has the most trouble when the running game falters and they have
to resort to a deep drop, pocket passing attack. Physical, tough running and the
ability to pass the ball out of running formations/situations are the triggers
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